I just made the transition from a home-based one-man trade shop to a
retail space three years ago. There are moments I miss the old spare
bedroom shop, but overall it was the right thing for me to do.
If your intention is to be a one-man retail shop, here are a few
things to consider. First, you must be honest with yourself about how
you deal with interruptions. If you can work twelve hours straight,
stop whatever you are doing, including pushing the third prong on a
four prong emerald cut emerald, get up, be friendly for half an hour
to someone who is being slightly difficult, sit back down, pick up
your prong pusher and hear the phone ring and still be able to smile,
you might do well in a retail situation. If you can’t, think real
hard about doing it by yourself or about doing retail at all. This
will be your life if you become successful. There is also one heck of
a lot more to do than just working the bench and waiting on
customers. Most of it, like paying bills and waiting on hold for your
merchant account rep, doesn’t pay very well, either. Retail isn’t
for everyone, and doing it by yourself is a monumental task.
If you intend to do both wholesale and retail, you must consider how
you are going to let retail customers know who and where you are.
This isn’t like baseball. Just because you build it doesn’t mean they
will come, even if you get a well placed retail space. If you decide
to advertise, remember that you will be competing with your wholesale
clients. That will not endear them to you.
Another thing to consider; maybe there is a reason why there is no
one doing office space retail in the area you are looking at. Don’t
just assume it’s a wide open market. Believe me, if it is a wide open
dream come true, someone else would already be there. For office
space retail, it would probably be better for you if there were other
people there already. There are sound reasons for them to all bunch
You didn’t say where you heard that it isn’t a good idea to start a
retail jewelry business by doing repair work, but I couldn’t disagree
more. Doing on-premises repair work may be the only edge you will
have over your competition. It’s no small advantage either. People
like to talk to the person who is repairing their jewelry. Many
customers, especially the most savvy ones, will bring in a small
repair or even a difficult pain in the neck kind of job just to check
you out and see how you are going to do before they will trust you
with a major custom job or a big sale. One of the best ways for you
to build trust and a strong reputation in the retail jewelry business
is by doing fairly priced, quality repairs in a timely manner.
If you decide to do either one of your stated options, be sure you
don’t need any income from it for a minimum of two or three years,
more likely five. You won’t have any. Every dime you make will be
spent on tools, metal, stones, rent, insurance and twenty other
things you haven’t even thought of yet. One person can only do so
much, there are only so many hours in a day and everyone will want a
piece of the action. The jewelry business is an all consuming, money
hungry, wallet vampire seductress. It will bleed you dry if you
aren’t careful. You have to want it more than hot food or sleep or
family time. Those will become luxuries. Three day weekends will
become only a distant memory. But if you can deal with all of the
hardships, the rewards can be great. It’s worth the effort if you’re
up to it.
Good wishes for your venture.